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MikeL #43598 Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:21 PM
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[I've asked this question more than once and I shall have to ask again. Where did God's "foreknowledge" (prescience) originate? You firmly reject the view that says that God's foreknowledge necessary follows foreordination (eternal decree(s)). So, how did God foreknow what to ordain? This, de facto of course, denies the very word "predestination" found in Scripture for it turns it upon its head to become, "postdestination"?]

Where did the aspect of God we call foreknowledge originate? Um, God didn't originate, so neither did his abilities?

How did God foreknow what to ordain? Because he....has foreknowledge?

I really don't know how to answer these. We agree God has foreknowledge. We agree that he foreordains things. Romans 8:29 clearly separates the two, and places foreknowledge as the basis for predestination.

Do you not see this in Romans 8:29?

MikeL #43599 Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:02 PM
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Mike,

Great comments. Here's how I interpreted your post.

"Sure, John, you've shown that God could have decreed (in a plausibly Calvinistic sense) genuinely free actions. But the view you've suggested seems to make God some sort of Distant, Cosmic Observer. Isn't that a serious problem for the view? It almost sounds like it leads to a form of Deism."

If the view that I have proposed had the implications that, as I have understood you, you suggested, then that would definitely be a problem for it. Happily, though, it doesn't have those implications. Here's why:

The world God chose to create is a world in which God is actively involved. He performs miracles, becomes a man, reveals His will in Scripture, sends plagues, scatters the Jews among the nations, etc. In other words, God created a world in which He is very intimately involved--a world about which He cares very much. Accordingly, God doesn't walk away from this world and allow the "drama to take its course because He has already seen the show"--He is in the show as he directed it from eternity.

Regards,
John

Last edited by jmp; Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:07 PM.

"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43600 Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:17 PM
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From Pilgrim's link about objections:

[But while God permits sin, His connection with it is purely negative and it is the abominable thing which he hates with perfect hatred. The motive which God has in permitting it and the motive which man has in committing it are radically different. Many persons are deceived in these matters because they fail to consider that God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly. Furthermore, every person’s conscience after he has committed a sin tells him that he alone is responsible and that he need not have committed it if he had not voluntarily chosen to do so.]

If that person was "dead in sin", how would they be able to have a good conscience that told them these things?

I agree with a good deal in the first part of this article, mainly because it obviously isn't Calvinism being described.

For example, the article seems to indicate sin has a will of its own:

[We may rest assured that God would never have permitted sin to have entered at all ...]

And confirms the existence and benefit of free will (I thought you didn't believe in free will?):

[In regard to the problem of evil, Dr. A. H. Strong advances the following considerations: “(1) That freedom of will is necessary to virtue ... Fairbairn has given us some good thought in the following paragraph: “But why did God create a being capable of sinning? Only so could He create a being capable of obeying. The ability to do good implies the capability of doing evil. The engine can neither obey nor disobey....]

Permissive will? Foreordaining and permitting are two very different things. You permit wills other than your own; you predestine individuals who have no free will.








CovenantInBlood #43601 Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:23 PM
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[One wonders where God got His foreknowledge if not from His foreordaining all things. Surely God is the one who creates & directs the future - how did He get a view of it without Himself determining what it would be?]

Romans 8:29 says God has foreknowledge. Do you need any other evidence?

MikeL #43603 Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
I really don't think God has to have absolute control over every aspect of the universe to know what it will do.

He is also omniscient.
1. If God is not in total control of everything then it is impossible that He is omniscient. Think about it! wink

2. If God is not in total control of everything, i.e., He has not decreed ALL THINGS and providentially controls ALL THINGS, then nothing can be said to be sure. I have replied elsewhere with several proofs including a number of biblical references, good and necessary consequence and even including an ancient poem, all which show the vanity of denying one of the fundamental elements which define deity from the biblical perspective.

3. Bottom line: if you deny that God has decreed all things and providentially governs all things, then all you have left is the philosophy of Atheism where the universe is subject to chance. Personally, that is not an option for me.


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MikeL #43604 Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
[I've asked this question more than once and I shall have to ask again. Where did God's "foreknowledge" (prescience) originate? You firmly reject the view that says that God's foreknowledge necessary follows foreordination (eternal decree(s)). So, how did God foreknow what to ordain? This, de facto of course, denies the very word "predestination" found in Scripture for it turns it upon its head to become, "postdestination"?]

Where did the aspect of God we call foreknowledge originate? Um, God didn't originate, so neither did his abilities?

How did God foreknow what to ordain? Because he....has foreknowledge?

I really don't know how to answer these.
That's unfortunate. Then why the angst against God's foreknowledge following foreordination if you are unable to comprehend the question which addresses your rejection of this biblical truth? You are adamant that foreordination follows God's foreknowledge. And I am simply asking where this foreknowledge (prescience=knowledge of facts) originated? You say that God saw men believing before He determined to foreordain their creation and end. So, please explain where these individuals existed and from whom God derived His knowledge. And this impacts the very definition of Omniscience as well, which I explained in some detail elsewhere. For, if God's knowledge is derived from the acts of free-will creatures, then it cannot be said that He is Omniscient in His being. God cannot know what any particular individual will decide until that person actually exercises his/her will. Thus, it necessarily follows that that which the creature decides is unknown to God beforehand, vis-a-vis ignorance; lack of knowledge.

Originally Posted by MikeL
We agree God has foreknowledge. We agree that he foreordains things.

Romans 8:29 clearly separates the two, and places foreknowledge as the basis for predestination.

Do you not see this in Romans 8:29?
I've also addressed the place of foreknowledge and its meaning in Rom 8:29 elsewhere. Verse 28 precedes verse 29 and is inseparable as to its context. "According to His purpose" is foreordination. Verse 28 begins with the conjunction "For", i.e., result. Therefore, Those whom God had purposed, those He foreknew and then predestinated to salvation.

Secondly, "foreknow" in verse 28 is to be properly understood as "fore-loved". The object of foreknowledge isn't "what was seen", i.e., former prescience [facts about] but rather the text clearly says, "whom". God fore-loved them and predestinated them to be saved in Christ. And then Paul spells out the "ordo salutis" of that loving predestination; calling, justifying, glorifying. Their salvation is fixed, immutable, infallible as is clearly seen from the verb tenses Paul used. This is in full accord and harmony with what Paul wrote in Eph 1:4-13.

One of best articles written on the subject of Foreknowledge was penned by Arthur W. Pink which you can find here: The Foreknowledge of God.

And finally, one of the most edifying books one can read on this subject of foreknowledge and election was written by Kenneth Johns, published by P&R Publishing. I am unsure if it is still available or not. It is a little paperback book written in a style which most can understand but which succinctly deals with these issues. I happen to have the first chapter online, which at the end he delves into the Romans 9 passage in some detail. You can read it here: Something is Wrong Here.

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Pilgrim #43605 Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:10 PM
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The Kenneth John book Election: Love Before Time (Paperback) is available Here


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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
- - - -JRR Tolkien "Lord of the Rings"
Pilgrim #43610 Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:00 PM
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[If God is not in total control of everything then it is impossible that He is omniscient. Think about it!]

I'm sorry, but the belief that God is even in absolute control of everything seems to come from Calvinism, and not Scripture.

Where in scripture do we find the phrase "absolute control"? We find sovereignty - and kings are sovereign.

Absolute control is not the fare of kings, but of tyrannical dictators. God is sovereign, not absolutely sovereign, as it's sometimes put.

And foreknowledge redefined as fore-love seems quite a stretch to me. Sorry, but I really don't think anyone would find that convincing were they not committed to re-defining basic terms of scripture in order to back up or remove obstacles to their theology.

We've been going back and forth on this foreknowledge issue, and I thank you for the links to Pink and others. I'll probably take a look.

Mike

MikeL #43611 Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:21 PM
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["According to His purpose" is foreordination.]

Let me give both verses

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." v. 28

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." v. 29

The "For" in v. 29 seems to me like it's setting up an explanation for the phrase "according to his purpose", and not the other way around. And in explaining what v. 28 means, I get the impression that it works like this: foreknowledge comes first, followed by predestination.

So this is primary to any discussion that follows, whether it be about foreknowledge as fore-love, or how free will affects foreknowlege.

Mike





jmp #43612 Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:25 PM
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John,

While the possible worlds view is interesting, and convincing, I wonder if we have scriptural evidence for it? It seems to be based on speculation.

Plantinga's name was mentioned. Was his purpose in forming/revising the argument about possible worlds to uphold Calvinism, or defend free will?

Mike

MikeL #43618 Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:03 PM
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Tom, sorry I missed one of your questions about one of my questions about total depravity. You gave me two links (listed below). One of them dealt with total depravity.

[Actually what Kyle said makes perfect sense. However perhaps your problem is that you haven’t fully grasped what he has said.
I thought you might benefit from reading the following two articles.
http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html
http://www.the-highway.com/Irresistible_Murray.html]

After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?

Obviously a way to look at total depravity.

Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: unregenerated are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

In the first, the phrase is interpreted to mean that those dead in sin have no way of even responding in a good way to the message of salvation. Dead means dead - totally unable to respond.

But believers are said sin, while being described as "dead to sin." The word is there again, but it's somehow diluted when we're confronted with the realistic idea that we still sin.

As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?

Mike


MikeL #43619 Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:08 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?

Obviously a way to look at total depravity.

A better analogy would be: I have no desire to go to the store. In fact, I hate the shopkeeper & will do everything within my power to keep out of the store. Am I going to accept a ride to the store when offered?

Quote
Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: unregenerated are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

Yes indeed. Those who are dead to sin are fundamentally lovers of God. Sin does not have controlling power over them. They are living lives that are being continually renewed in the grace of God. Their new nature hates sin and is constantly warring against the remnants of the old nature within. They can never again fall from God's grace. Those dead in sin, by contrast, are fundamentally enslaved to sin. They are living lives in which they continually sin & rebel against God. They hate God and they resist whatever godly influences they may encounter. They will not, and cannot, leave this state except by God's regenerating grace.

Quote
As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?

No, understanding Calvinism does not save you. Salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. While a basic understanding of the gospel is necessary (e.g., I am a sinner worthy of death, I can be saved only by placing my trust in Christ alone, who by His death has paid the penalty for my sin), assent to Calvinism (as a fuller articulation of biblical truth) is not necessary for salvation. I suppose there may be some out there who assent to the truth of Calvinism while regarding themselves as reprobate; this is not theoretically impossible. But such a person could not be a "Calvinist," anymore than someone who assents to the basic truths of Christianity while considering himself headed for hell would be a "Christian."


Kyle

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MikeL #43620 Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:19 PM
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In the work I mentioned, Plantinga was doing metaphysics of modality. I don't believe his primary concern was theological, although I could be wrong. He has some confused theological ideas, but his work on the metaphysics of modality is well-respected among professional philosophers.

That said, I don't think the possible world talk is as speculative as it appears. Here's why.

Consider the following definition. As I've used it, a 'possible world' just is a way, given God's omnipotence, He could have created things. (NOTE: There are other uses of 'possible world' talk in the technical literature. These aren't important for our discussion, however.) With that definition in mind, that there are "possible worlds" is not speculative. After all, saying that there are "possible worlds" is equivalent to saying that there are other ways God could have made things, given that He is omnipotent. This seems theologically uncontroversial and nonspeculative.

Second, since it isn't a speculative claim to say that God is eternally omniscient, it isn't speculative to claim that eternally knew every way that He could have made things. Using possible world jargon, this just means that it isn't speculative to claim that God eternally knows all possible worlds.

Third, since it isn't speculative to claim that God's omniscience is logically prior to His act of creation, it isn't speculative to claim that God, in creating, had to select one possible world to create over the others. Or, to eliminate possible world jargon, it isn't speculative to claim that God had to choose to make things one of the ways the He knew He was capable of making them. (By 'logically prior', I simply mean this: God's omniscience comes first in the order of nature. Or, it was necessary for God to be omniscient in order to be the divine Creator.)

As it turns out, it is perfectly plausible to claim that God eternally decreed free human actions, and, in fact, it would be surprising if He didn't. After all, when God created, it seems as though it was necessary for Him to create things only one of the ways that He knew He could make them. Furthermore, since there is moral responsibility in this world, it seems pretty clear that He chose to create a world where Adam sinned freely.

If one were to accept this picture, then one is almost a Calvinist with respect to the doctrine of unconditional election. The only thing left to be convinced of is this: the fall was so devastating that we need God's grace to change our sinful character so that we can freely receive Christ.

(Note: Calvinist confessions of faith say that God "persuades and enables" us to believe the Gospel. He "enables" us by changing our character or 'nature', and he "persuades" us rather than "coerces" us to believe. This persuasion is perfectly efficacious, but really good persuading is compatible with free action. In other words, Calvinists can even say that there is a sense in which we freely chose to believe the Gospel. After all, we weren't coerced, and our faith sprung from our own (newly regenerated) character. So, we can get freedom from top to bottom, but we still have a very strong, anti-Pelagian dependence on God's grace for everything good.)

I hope this post helps you!

Regards,
John


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43621 Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?
Yes, IF you are alive you might be able to accept a ride when offered. No, if you are dead and buried in a cemetery for then you would be totally unable.

Originally Posted by MikeL
Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: the unregenerate are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

In the first, the phrase is interpreted to mean that those dead in sin have no way of even responding in a good way to the message of salvation. Dead means dead - totally unable to respond.

But believers are said sin, while being described as "dead to sin." The word is there again, but it's somehow diluted when we're confronted with the realistic idea that we still sin.
In Jh 5:21; Rom 6:2; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:3; 3:1-4; 1Jh 3:14, for example, which passages are germane to this discussion, "dead" means just that... DEAD, no life, non-existence, without life. Notice when the reference is to those who are not regenerate, a term in itself full of meaning re-animate, the descriptions are full as to one's spiritual state. Further, notice that those who were "made alive" are also referred to as those who have been "resurrected". There is no possibility that any form of spiritual "life" can be attributed to these. Now, as to the latter reference (Rom 6:2) where Paul wrote: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?", dead (Grk: apethanomen) still means dead. It's just that it is not referring to one's spiritual state but the believer's experience. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes on this text:

Quote
What the Apostle is saying, therefore, is that at the moment we were regenerated, or at the moment of our justification -because it then becomes actual in our experience - the moment we become Christians, we are dead, completely dead, to the reign of sin. We are out of sin's territory altogether. That, I suggest, is what the Apostle is saying in this second verse. In the following verses he works it all out and explains it in detail; he shows us how it happens. But here we have the general statement and proposition, that because we are what we are in Christ, being what we are as the result of what has happened to us, we are dead to the reign and to the rule of sin.

But now I imagine somebody putting forward an objection: 'How can you possibly say such a thing? We still sin, we still feel the power of temptation and the power of sin; how therefore can you say honestly that you are dead to the rule and to the reign and to the whole dominion of sin ?' I answer in this way. We must differentiate between what is true of our position as a fact and our experience. There is all the difference in the world between a man's status and position on the one hand and his experience on the other. Now here the Apostle is concerned about our position; and what he says is that every person in the world at this minute is either under the reign and rule of sin or else under the reign and rule of grace. What he says about the Christian is, that whereas once he was under the rule and the reign of sin, he is now under the rule and the reign of grace. It is either one or the other, he cannot have a foot in each position. He is either under sin or else he is under grace. And I repeat, that what Paul says about us as Christians is that we are dead completely to the rule and the reign of sin and of evil. That is no longer true of us; once and for ever we have been taken out of that position.
He goes on to prove from a number of texts that this is the correct understanding of the phrase.


Originally Posted by MikeL
As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?
Sorry, Mike but this is not a true statement regarding your experience. No one here, hopefully, will say they consider themselves "elect" because they have "mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs." What is true is that most everyone, regardless of their theological system, who professes to be a Christian considers themselves to be elect. What is unfortunate is there are many who are self-deceived. [Linked Image]

Why would any believer consider themselves reprobate? That's illogical... since if one professes to have been given faith, then they can't be reprobate.

Lastly, re: 'does understanding Calvinism save you?'... not in and of itself. That the embracing of truth is essential is without question admitted as a biblical truth, for it is the Spirit of Christ Who opens the eyes of dead sinners to see the truth of God, Christ, sin, repentance, salvation by grace, etc. But mere mental assent saves no one. Unfortunately, this is more the mindset of Evangelicalism than Calvinism, although it is to be found in some extremists. The theological term that describes this falsehood is Sandemanianism, aka: "Easy Believism".

Regeneration is the work of the Spirit of God whereby a new nature is created in a spiritually dead sinner. Regeneration affects the whole man; mind, emotions and will. A cursory reading of Scripture will bear this out. wink Or, if you don't want to take the time to read through the entire Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture, then you can simply take advantage of what someone else has already done. giggle Go here: Regeneration or the New Birth.


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MikeL #43622 Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
While the possible worlds view is interesting, and convincing, I wonder if we have scriptural evidence for it? It seems to be based on speculation.

Where is the scriptural evidence for the idea that the future existed somehow apart from God's decree & that God merely observed this future to determine whom He would predestine?

Quote
Plantinga's name was mentioned. Was his purpose in forming/revising the argument about possible worlds to uphold Calvinism, or defend free will?

Plantinga uses "possible worlds" primarily in his reformulation of the ontological argument for the existence of God, from what I recall. But he does use "possible worlds" somewhat in formulating his "free will defense" against the problem of evil. The purpose of his defense is to show that it is logically possible for an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God to create a world in which there is moral evil. Plantinga says that a world with free creatures is better than a world with no free creatures. God can possibly create a world with free creatures, but He cannot determine that they always do what is right, or else they are not significantly free & are therefore not capable of moral good. In order for there to be moral good, there must also exist the possibility of moral evil. God could possibly have desired to create a world with moral goodness, but in order to do so He would logically have to create that world with the possibility of moral evil. Thus the only way in which God could have created a world without moral evil would be if He created a world without moral good. His concern is not with Calvinism per se, but his defense is not really Calvinistic.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
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